Posted by: Sara Carbone on: February 18, 2012
Your grade or middle school child’s science or history textbook can be pretty dry or hard to understand. Doing things to clarify the material and bring it to life can help if he’s struggling.
Go over the textbook with him each night. Talk about it to understand events, concepts and themes. Decipher the bolded words that are confusing and create a little notebook of vocab words defined in his own words, as often times book definitions use words he doesn’t know. Also, try to bring the subject to life by relating it to real life now.
Example: Explain that an oligarchical government in ancient Greece is like Bill Gates and Donald Trump running New York State
Example: Check out the plants out back when doing photosynthesis or Mendel’s theory of inheritance
Point out the more interesting and easy parts of the textbook, like the visual aides. Maps, photos and graphic organizers can be a lot more fun than words on a page. Also, try reading the preview summaries or questions in the beginning of a chapter, note its section headings and discuss the chapter’s review vocab and questions at the end. Answering questions about a topic can help get the info into his head more easily. If there are concepts that are confusing for both of you, note them with a sticky or a question mark so he can ask about that in class (teachers love this!).
Some extras if you are feeling ambitious. Create notecards of the vocab words and the key concepts (again in his own words). Go visual: cruise the Internet for images or videos that bring the info to life or use some of the great visual reference books from the library like DK’s Eyewitness series. And since repeat viewings of info help, preview the next chapter they are about to cover (ask the teacher for which one, as they jump around sometimes).
Question for readers: What are some activities you’ve used to bring homework to life?
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